Bose OE review

On the plus side, these Bose cans are light and portable, but we'd really like more bang for our buck Tested at £120.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Not without merit, but we'd like a bit more vigour and a bit more detail


  • +

    Comfortable, light and fold-away portable

  • +

    unflappable, balanced sound


  • -

    Relatively short on detail

  • -

    prone to noise through the frame

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

Even before they've made any kind of sound, things look good for the Bose OEs.

A relatively light headphone at just 147g including cable, they're eminently portable thanks to their pivoting ear-cups.

The appearance of two lengths (0.4m and 1.1m) of detachable cable in the package means excess-cable-misery should never be an issue, either.

The OEs' ear-pads have a single profile all the way across, rather than just running around the edge of the cup – which we find more comfortable.

Put them on, though, and the first doubts creep in – at least, they do if you've a mirror handy. The headband is almost perfectly semicircular, so with the cans in situ there's a great big gap between the band and the wearer's head above both ears – not a good look.

Performance is a mix of pros and cons
Sound is similarly comprised of pros and cons. With a high-bitrate file of The Orb's Perpetual Dawn playing, the OEs serve up a balanced, tidy presentation with the emphasis firmly on separation and low-frequency control.

Politely punchy and with the same restraint demonstrated at the opposite end of the frequency range, they're pretty imperturbable – even if the music you're playing is single-mindedly trying to perturb them. Integration is good, and dynamic upheavals can't ruffle proceedings.

The OEs are a little deficient where fine detail is concerned, though – the midrange, in particular, would benefit from a little more information – and, while they do well resisting thumping through their detachable cable, movement of the ear-cups at can be heard clearly.

So while they are far from a disaster, you don't have to spend very much more to do quite a bit better.

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What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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